McDonald v. Chicago (Alito)



Municipal respondents assert that, although most state
constitutions protect firearms rights, state courts have
held that these rights are subject to ““interest-balancing””
and have sustained a variety of restrictions. Brief for
Municipal Respondents 23-–31. In Heller, however, we
expressly rejected the argument that the scope of the
Second Amendment right should be determined by judicial
interest balancing, 554 U. S., at ___–___ (slip op., at 62–
63), and this Court decades ago abandoned ““the notion
that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the States only
a watered-down, subjective version of the individual guar-
antees of the Bill of Rights,”” Malloy, supra, at 10–-11 (in-
ternal quotation marks omitted).

As evidence that the Fourteenth Amendment has not
historically been understood to restrict the authority of the
States to regulate firearms, municipal respondents and
supporting amici cite a variety of state and local firearms
laws that courts have upheld. But what is most striking
about their research is the paucity of precedent sustaining
bans comparable to those at issue here and in Heller.
Municipal respondents cite precisely one case (from the
late 20th century) in which such a ban was sustained. See
Brief for Municipal Respondents 26–-27 (citing Kalodimos
v. Morton Grove, 103 Ill. 2d 483, 470 N. E. 2d 266 (1984));
see also Reply Brief for Respondents NRA et al. 23, n. 7
(asserting that no other court has ever upheld a complete
ban on the possession of handguns). It is important to
keep in mind that Heller, while striking down a law that
prohibited the possession of handguns in the home, recog-
nized that the right to keep and bear arms is not “”a right
to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner
whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”” 554 U. S., at ___
(slip op., at 54). We made it clear in Heller that our hold-
ing did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory
measures as “”prohibitions on the possession of firearms by
felons and the mentally ill,”” “laws forbidding the carrying


of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and gov-
ernment buildings, or laws imposing conditions and quali-
fications on the commercial sale of arms.”” Id., at ___–___
(slip op., at 54–55). We repeat those assurances here.
Despite municipal respondents’’ doomsday proclamations,
incorporation does not imperil every law regulating

Municipal respondents argue, finally, that the right to
keep and bear arms is unique among the rights set out in
the first eight Amendments ““because the reason for codify-
ing the Second Amendment (to protect the militia) differs
from the purpose (primarily, to use firearms to engage in
self-defense) that is claimed to make the right implicit in
the concept of ordered liberty.”” Brief for Municipal Re-
spondents 36–-37. Municipal respondents suggest that the
Second Amendment right differs from the rights hereto-
fore incorporated because the latter were ““valued for
[their] own sake.”” Id., at 33. But we have never previ-
ously suggested that incorporation of a right turns on
whether it has intrinsic as opposed to instrumental value,
and quite a few of the rights previously held to be incorpo-
rated-—for example the right to counsel and the right to
confront and subpoena witnesses—-are clearly instrumen-
tal by any measure. Moreover, this contention repackages
one of the chief arguments that we rejected in Heller, i.e.,
that the scope of the Second Amendment right is defined
by the immediate threat that led to the inclusion of that
right in the Bill of Rights. In Heller, we recognized that
the codification of this right was prompted by fear that the
Federal Government would disarm and thus disable the
militias, but we rejected the suggestion that the right was
valued only as a means of preserving the militias. 554
U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 26). On the contrary, we stressed
that the right was also valued because the possession of
firearms was thought to be essential for self-defense. As
we put it, self-defense was ““the central component of the